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The Moroccan coach was pleased for Odafa Okolie as the striker scored two goals against the Red Lizards…

Mohun Bagan registered a 3-1 victory over Pune FC on Saturday and helped ‘save’ the job for coach Karim Bencherifa as a negative result could have lead to his sacking.

“I praise all of you (media) for the professionalism you have shown in the last two-three weeks. So, thank you to all.

“To be honest with you, I was hurt and my management had to excuse me by saying that. Today I got a message from Anjan Mitra in the morning who wished me best of luck. Also I had a long call with Debasish Dutta in the morning. I know Tumpai (Srinjoy Bose) and Tutu Bose have a lot of faith on me." 

"From the United game, I felt that I was assessed as if every game is my last. Karim has won 6 trophies in India and finished runners-up in 5. More than half of them was with this team, which is why I love Mohun Bagan. I also have a heart and I’m a human being. I was hurt,” Bencherifa.

He praised the effort of the players for the performance they put against Pune FC which lifted the spirit of the club and their fans.

"The players offered to carry me on the field after the match but I told them that we have not won a trophy. This is nothing to be carried away for."

"I am very proud of my players and a big thanks to them. I had told a few weeks ago that I can die for the boys. In the Aryan match and today, the boys showed that they can also die for me. We played in 4-1-4-1 and since the strategy of pushing high worked perfectly well for my team."

Bencherifa and Mike Snoei, Pune FC coach, have been involved in verbal spat when the two sides met earlier in the season. That relationship continued on Saturday as the two coaches were seen speaking animatedly to each other throughout the game.

"I heard all things the opponent coach told about me. I respect Dutch coaches and Netherlands is a great country in terms of the football coaches they have produced. I respect Rob Baan and Wim (Koevermans). Eelco (Schattorie) and I share a very good relationship with them. My humble advise for the coach of Pune will be to focus more on his team. I could have reacted to the things he said, but I thought that it is always better to prove it on the field." 

Prior to the game against Pune FC, Odafa Okolie had only scored a single goal in six matches. He put in a fantastic shift and scored twice to ensure his side earn full points.

"I am extremely happy for Odafa. Even today I had a meeting with him in my office. Now, he scores a brilliant goal, that trademark Odafa goal."

“After the second goal of Odafa, you may have seen that Pitam Kotal and Shouvik Ghosh came to me and told that ‘Odafa is back’. I will not claim that we have the best team but the bonding is great in the team. My message to the officials would be to keep supporting me like they did today. The players played their hearts out."

While Snoei has time and again pointed toward fielding young players in his first eleven, Bencherifa stated that it is his team which hands maximum under-23 players a start.

"All the teams talk about youth development but only Mohun Bagan plays four-to-five under-23 players in the team. Even Pune has the best youth development programme in the country, but they had only two Under-23 players today."

 

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